Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mr. Show (1995-1998) * * *

MR. SHOW, also known as MR. SHOW WITH BOB AND DAVID, was a sketch comedy series that aired on HBO cable network from November 3, 1995 to December 28, 1998. It was created, produced, written and starred Bob Odenkirk (SNL writer/actor) and stand up comedian/actor David Cross. Each episode of MR. SHOW consists of a series of sketches, each one transitioning to the next by way of a segue, called a link. For instance, a minor character in one sketch might return as the major character in the next. Often, common themes or storylines are returned to at different times throughout an episode. The show's cast and writers attribute the show's critical success and audience devotion to the fact that HBO left them alone and let them do whatever they wanted. It is regarded by sketch comedy fans as probably the best of the 1990s, although as a cable show its audience was limited. DVD editions, however, have sold well, opening the show to a larger new audience.

Bob: Every time a cast member swears, they have to put a nickel in the swearing jar.
David: (drops a nickel into an already full jar) The money goes to Swears For Cares, a non-profit organization committed to raising money through swearing.
Bob: So hopefully, we'll make a little difference.
David: (holds up a nickel) A little f**king difference.

The format of Mr. Show is heavily influenced by MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, especially in linking one sketch to the next. It's a strong point for both shows because it negates the tendency to expect each sketch to end on a punch line or high note, a feature of more traditional sketch comedy shows such as SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. The interweaving of taped bits and stage-performed sketch found in MONTY PYTHON is prevalent in MR. SHOW, and both shows depend on absurd and silly humor. However, MR. SHOW also includes much shocking and funny profanity.

Kennard Chamberlin: Do you really believe that court cases are decided by juries making decisions based on evidence and lawyers' arguments?
John Hamlinson: Oh Danny, how could you be so naïve?
Kennard Chamberlin: Dan, court cases are decided by a series of blow jobs. In fact, our entire civilization is built on blow jobs.

In later seasons, the show satirizes celebrities in an indirect fashion, by changing the name and some of the idiosyncrasies of the celebrity, while maintaining an obvious parody. For example, "Willips Brighton" is a character spoofing Brian Wilson, Marilyn Manson becomes "Norma Jean Monster" and later "Marilyn Monster", Carrot Top becomes "Blueberry Head", and Dr. Demento is named "Dr. Retarded".

F.F. Woodycooks: Have you seen this man's ass? It's wanted for smuggling 20 million pounds of narcotics into the United States. Also: Have you seen this man? He's wanted--by crooks everywhere, for trying to...

MR. SHOW has a strong, confident contrarian viewpoint that sometimes mocks or satirizes organized religion or global capitalism. Additionally, many of the show's sketches were constructed with a strong critique of modern TV, whether it be infomercials or sitcoms. Cynicism plays a heavy role in the show and there is little respect for traditionalism.

Bob: I'll tell you what it is! It's a box of big black dildos. You and your sister were supposed to put these out last night.
David: I'll do it later.
Bob: You'll do it now! (hits Jimmy with a dildo)
David: Ow!
Bob: And next time you'll get more than a dildo in the head!
David: Stupid dildos.
Bob: Don't blame the dildos!

Every episode begins with an individual introducing the hosts, Bob and David. This role was filled by Mary Lynn Rajskub in the first two seasons, while in the latter two seasons Bob and David would be introduced by a character from a sketch in that given episode. In the opening dialogue, Bob is often dressed in a suit, while David is dressed more casually.

Reverand Winton Dupree: Now I have a question and I know you all have it, too. What is up Satan's ass? All he wants to do is f**k us up, the dicklicker! The lord said, "I am the light of the world." Now he could of easily have said, "I am King Shit of F**k Mountain... Why would you f**k with me?" I'm the only preacher with the f**king balls, and you know this, to say, "Satan I damn thee, you shit-eating, c**k-sucking, mother-f**king son of a b!" Can I get a f**kin' a?

Each episode's title is taken from a line of dialogue heard during the episode, with three exceptions. The title of the first episode in season one, "The Cry of a Hungry Baby", does not appear anywhere in the episode but in fact came from a sketch that was eventually cut from the debut episode. The title of the seventh episode in season three, "Bush is a Pussy", comes from a t-shirt worn by one of the characters. The title of the seventh episode in season four, "Eat Rotten Fruit from a Shitty Tree", is a lyric from a song that only appears in instrumental form. Some lines of dialogue are often repeated by different characters during the course of a single show, such as "I was on the eighteenth hole!" in "The Biggest Failure in Broadway History", and "Who let you in?" in the episode of the same name. At the end of each episode's credits there is a random niche celebrity in the "Special Thanks" section placed there for fans to hunt out and not for the purpose of thanking. For example, the first episode's random special niche thanks credit celebrity was Rick Dees, and the third episode's was Greg Maddux. This is referred to as a "Fake Special Thanks".

The main cast are:

David Cross (all seasons)
Bob Odenkirk (all seasons)
John Ennis (all seasons)
Tom Kenny (seasons 1 through 3, plus episode #402)
Jill Talley (all seasons, except for episodes #306, #307, #309, #310)
Jay Johnston (episode #410)

Featured cast and frequent collaborators are:

Scott Aukerman (season 4)
Jack Black (seasons 1-2)
John Ennis (seasons 1-4)
Jay Johnston (seasons 1-4)
Karen Kilgariff (seasons 3-4)
Jerry Minor (episode #205, season 4)
Theresa Mulligan (episode #204, season 3)
Bill Odenkirk (seasons 1-4)
Brett Paesel (episode #203, seasons 3-4)
BJ Porter (episodes #205 and #307, season 4)
Brian Posehn (seasons 1-4)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (seasons 1-2)
Sarah Silverman (episode #103, season 3)
Becky Thyre (season 4)
Paul F. Tompkins (seasons 1-4)

Some of the characters portrayed are:

Ronnie Dobbs (David Cross) is a habitual criminal regularly caught in the act on "Fuzz", a COPS-like program.

Terry Twillstein (Bob Odenkirk) is a foppish, manipulative, British TV producer who discovers Ronnie Dobbs, and is always looking to use Ronnie for his success.

Senator Howel Tankerbell (Bob Odenkirk) is an ultra-conservative Southern Dixiecrat Senator.

Three Times One Minus One (T.T.O.M.O) is an R & B duo made up of Pootie T. and Wolfgang Amadeus Thelonius Van Funkenmeister The 19th and 3 Quarters (Played by David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, respectively). They are the performers of the song, "Ewww, Girl, Ewww", which is designed to promote literacy, as well as the song "Goodbye 2 Every 1 Ever," written in memory of "everyone that's ever died."

Droopy (Bob Odenkirk) is a dirty and chronically congested take on the "lazy twenty-something slacker" stereotype. He loves to messily eat chocolate and, for an unknown reason, wants to work at the front desk of his local museum, although he has few qualifications.

Dylan (David Cross) is an extremely pretentious man in glasses wearing a long scarf, even in hot weather. He shuns popular American culture and modern technology, but surprisingly he is friends with Droopy. In audio commentary castmates describe Cross's first impression on them being reminiscent of Dylan.

Fancy Pants (Bill Odenkirk) is a dandy who makes occasional silent, yet noted walk-ons. First seen clad in Elizabethan garb he makes his second appearance in a more Edwardian style.

MR. SHOW also spawned a spin-off movie, RUN RONNIE RUN (2002), based on popular character Ronnie Dobbs that went straight to DVD. Bob and David both had numerous disagreements with the film's director, Troy Miller. In the end, Cross and Odenkirk disowned the final version.

Ronnie Dobbs: I'm gonna go out in this world and get everything I can get. I mean, I'm gonna be rich, super rich. I mean, I'm gonna be spending money like a chimp in a beat-off contest.
Birthday Woman: Oh, Ronnie Dobbs. You are brilliant. You have to do me a favor.
Ronnie Dobbs: At your service.
Birthday Woman: Tell me to f**k off.
Ronnie Dobbs: Huh?
Birthday Woman's Friend: Come on, it's her birthday.
Ronnie Dobbs: Alright. F**k you, bitch.

In September 2002, original cast members Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, John Ennis, Brian Posehn and Stephanie Courtney took "Mr. Show: Hooray for America!!!" on the road. The two month stint featured some of MR. SHOW's best sketches, such as "The Burgundy Loaf", and also added new material. In the stage show, the large fictitious mega-corporation Globo-Chem ("We own everything, so you don't have to!") sponsors David's stage persona to run for the presidency of the USA. The performance venues varied from the elegant Warner Theatre in Washington, DC to the converted warehouse of the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA. Some parts of the live show were ad libbed, and changed from night to night. David Cross sometimes broke scene, to directly address loud or drunk crowd members.

MR. SHOW is available on DVD as 4 separate seasons and also as "MR. SHOW: The Complete Collection", with 15 hours of sketch comedy. The Complete Collection does not contain any new material, nor improve the production quality of the original discs. It's just a convenience, and also saves money because it costs around $80, whereas individual sets cost about $35 each. You get commentary tracks for every episode, rare live appearances, promo spots, and other extras. Bob and David have talked about a MR. SHOW reunion, and possibly another movie.

David: I'll tell you where they are. They're out there laughing. Laughing at you. They're laughing at the big, fat asshole.
Bob: You've taught me that not all things are stupid. Some things are gay.
David: What are you saying, sir?
Bob: I'm saying, pack your bags, 'cause we're headed up my mom's ass!

Blog Archive